Why Haven't Rates of Schizophrenia Increased with the Rise of More Potent Weed?
Studies concluding that cannabis use can induce psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, might need some updating.
Although this topic is of great interest, the debate continues among psychiatrists over whether a cause-and-effect relationship between smoking cannabis and schizophrenia truly exists.
One obvious element in the discussion that cannot be overlooked is that weed has gotten far more potent in the past several decades (ask your parents) and the rate of cannabis users has skyrocketed.
Why, then, haven’t rates of schizophrenia increased accordingly?
Thankfully, they have not.
Researchers in London came up with an interesting hypothesis: not all effects follow causes.
“Perhaps the answer is in those brief experiences we have when we use cannabis,” said Musa Sami, Researcher & Academic Psychiatrist at Kings College.
The study asked 1,231 cannabis users about their experiences when they used weed and noted a “pleasurable experiences score” and a “psychotic-like experiences score.”
“We then asked the participants if they were continuing to use cannabis, or if they were thinking of quitting in the future,” said Dr. Sami.
Those who reported having pleasurable experiences said they would continue to use cannabis while those with higher psychotic-like experiences had either stopped or were thinking of quitting.
“Interestingly, this might mean that the people at highest risk are the very ones who are quitting,” said Dr. Sami.
He referred to this as the “cannabis discontinuation hypothesis.”
It is more nuanced than being pro- or anti-cannabis, pointed out Dr. Sami, but rather the factor that explains why the link between cannabis potency and schizophrenia rates is not direct.